Our 2nd annual Mother Up! Lobby Day on Thursday, February 15th was a tremendous success! Dozens of parents and children from across the state traveled to the State House asking for bold climate action now. Our day began just after 10 am in the Ethan Allen room, where we shared with each other about what draws each of us to Mother Up! in general and to the lobby day in particular. Jesse Scarlato, child care provider extraordinaire, also used this room as a “base camp” with many of the children. It was such a help to have Jesse there to support us!

At 11 am, we walked over to meet with Lt. Governor David Zuckerman in his office. He talked about the challenges of collaborating with the Scott administration, as well as how impactful it is to connect with our legislators — in person, over the phone, and via email — to advocate for the kinds of changes we’d like to see. We found Lt. Gov. Zuckerman to be friendly, accessible, and forthcoming, and we look forward to ongoing conversations and collaborations with him.

At 12 pm, we headed over to the Climate Solutions Caucus, which meets every Thursday for pizza lunch in Room 10. The Climate Solutions Caucus is co-chaired by Representative Mary Sullivan and Senator Dick McCormack and now consists of more than 60 legislators, though not everyone is able to attend every week. (Note: If you don’t see your legislator on this list, encourage them to join the caucus!)

We advocated for the following legislation:
  1. Use VW Settlement Funds to purchase electric vehicles, particularly electric school buses (H.682)
  2. No more fossil fuel infrastructure in Vermont (H.746)
  3. Support carbon pricing through the Essex Plan with formal amendments for just transition (S.284, H.791)
  4. Conduct an economic study of greenhouse gas reduction and carbon pollution pricing (H.763).

With a shout out to VPIRG for their ongoing support of and commitment to citizen lobbying efforts!

Our presentation centered around prepared testimonials, read by Katie Wilson, a Brattleboro mother, Mary Beth McNulty, a Burlington mother, Sophie Freebern, an 8-year-old child (!!) from Richmond, and Lissa Schneckenberger, another Brattleboro mother who read Robin MacArthur’s testimony. Robin, a Marlboro mother, was unable to make it herself. These testimonials were poignant, powerful, and persuasive. Here’s a link to the video.

Additionally, some of these testimonials, plus several additional ones, were submitted as letters to the editor. Read Katie’s Let us make smart choices to prioritize our future, Carly Reitsma’s We must act now to address global rising temperatures, Lissa’s A vote for climate-change resolution is a vote for clean, healthy life, and Nancy Braus’ Toward a healthy and livable future. All of these pieces were published in Windham County’s The Commons in the lead up to the vote on the Town Meeting Day Resolutions, which was another opportunity to advocate for no new fossil fuel infrastructure, as well as action on 90% renewable by 2050.

From the Climate Caucus, we walked upstairs to the House Chamber, where we were centrally seated on the stage. Representative Mollie Burke from Brattleboro introduced our group for formal recognition by the House, which was quite an honor. Mollie is a member of the Climate Caucus and a strong ally of Mother Up! We stayed to listen to the beginning of the House proceedings.

Our final stop of the day, just before 2pm, was a visit to Governor Phil Scott’s office. Although we knew ahead of time that he was out of town and wouldn’t be able to meet with us, we took this opportunity to leave him with information about Mother Up!, to show our support for strong legislative and gubernatorial action on climate, and to distribute printed testimonials from the Climate Caucus. We hope to meet with him in person the next time we visit the State House, if not before.

After our Lobby Day, I heard from a number of folks who were at the Climate Caucus — both legislators and other friends and allies who’d been there — about how meaningful our presence and the testimonials were for them. Clearly our work doesn’t end here, but this reaffirmed for me how sharing stories can help shape policy. And through “Mother Up!,” we’re engaging parents throughout Vermont to take action because we believe parents are powerful voices in fighting for the health and safety of our collective future. Hear more about “Mother Up!” and our day at the State House with this Vermont Public Radio commentary, Parents as Activists.

I’m already looking forward to our 3rd annual Lobby Day!

-Abby Mnookin, Project Coordinator